As the world’s leading social networking platform, Facebook attracts 2.89 billion monthly active users worldwide. In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg created the website in his Harvard dorm room to connect college students. Today, Facebook has grown to attract people of all ages and nationalities from all over the world. Through the years, Facebook has grown from a platform for sharing life updates and connecting with friends to a place where people gather information about companies, buy and sell used items, find jobs, and read the news. That popularity, unfortunately, makes it an ideal breeding ground for Facebook scams.
Users log on to Facebook for both personal and professional reasons, which means scams can vary widely in nature. Below are the most common Facebook scams.
In this phishing scam, you’ll receive an email that appears to originate directly from Facebook, urging you to log in to your account for any number of reasons. It may claim your account has been compromised, your password needs to be reset, or another circumstance that might encourage you to click the link and act quickly. If you click the link, it will take you to a fraudulent Facebook page to enter your account credentials, which the scammers will then use to gain access to your account.
Misleading, fake, and sensationalized stories are popular scam material on Facebook. If you see an advertisement for a shocking video or a link that appears to discuss new Facebook features—such as a “dislike” button or a way to track who’s viewed your profile—that link will typically lead you to a site that will install malware on your computer.
Fake ads for shopping sites also fall into this category. When you click on the ad, it will take you to a website that seems legitimate. You may decide to purchase an item, but it either never arrives or isn’t what you expected—and now the scammer has also captured your personal and financial details.
Scammers create pages or accounts for giveaways, then try to drum up attention for the competition and ask users to comment, like, and share their posts so that more people sign up for the chance to win airline tickets, products, and other prizes.
When you enter the competition, you are usually directed to a website to enter your personal information and sign up for the contest. Unfortunately, the website may install malware on your devices, and you risk having your identity stolen.
These scams can concern various topics, but generally, in each case, users will be asked to pay a small advance fee to qualify for the offer.
One possible version is the job scam. These involve job postings on Facebook that request an upfront payment before you can apply.
In a lottery scam, you’ll receive a Facebook message stating you’re one of the winners of a lottery, and you can receive your money in exchange for a minimal fee. You’ll need to provide your personal information and bank details to receive the funds, which of course, do not exist.
If you see a post advertising loans at low-interest rates in exchange for a small advance fee, it also falls into this scam category. The posts typically boast about their successful history of loaning to past customers and usually contain spelling and grammatical errors that are tell-tale signs of a Facebook scam.
Sometimes scammers can recreate fake Facebook profiles of existing users. They then use the fake account to spam their friends with a story about a distressing situation and ask for money. Since you’re receiving the message from someone you believe you know, you might be more inclined to help them out. However, a scammer may have cloned the friend’s account, or the scammer might have gained access to the account through other methods.
You might receive a Facebook message from someone you don’t know. The conversation starts friendly but soon develops into something more romantic and personal. The person might live overseas and have a sad backstory. Usually, they can’t video chat or meet with you in person because they’re claiming to be someone else.
Eventually, they will start asking you for money for various reasons, and they disappear with your hard-earned money.
Because of Facebook’s reach, charities often use it to raise awareness about various important causes. Unfortunately, scammers also take advantage of Facebook’s broad platform to set up pages for fake charity causes. They frequently rely on shocking images and emotional stories to appeal for donations. Sometimes, the fake charity causes are related to recent tragedies and natural disasters.
Facebook users use Facebook Marketplace to unload their old possessions or scout for good deals on in-demand items. It’s easy to fall victim to Facebook Marketplace scams since you’re often dealing with strangers. When you meet to receive the item, you might find it’s nothing like the person described—it could be fake, broken, or even stolen.
A seller could also request that you pay online or via check, wiring service, cryptocurrency, or online payment service and then disappear as soon as you send the funds.
Facebook scammers constantly update their schemes to take advantage of users with increasingly conniving methods. Follow these tips to beat the scammers and stay safe while using the world’s most popular social network:
You can protect yourself from Facebook scams by contacting Facebook directly and using the free tools it offers to provide additional security and privacy when browsing.
If you receive a message that you believe to be a scam, do not open it, if possible. Report it to Facebook at [email protected].
If you have concerns about a specific individual, you can also report that person or profile. To do that, click the three dots at the right of the person’s name and select “Find Support or Report Profile.” You’ll have to choose the option that describes how the person has violated Facebook’s Community Standards. Depending on your feedback, you may then be asked to submit a report to Facebook.
You can also report specific posts, Pages, Groups, ads, events, fundraisers, comments, and items on Marketplace.
If you purchased an item using checkout on Facebook, your purchase might be covered by Facebook’s Purchase Protection. You can request a refund if:
Unfortunately, Facebook’s Purchase Protection does not cover purchases made through third-party sites, local pickups, Messenger transactions, or other messaging services. If you don’t receive an item you paid for using PayPal or a wiring service, you’d have to contact those services or your bank to request a refund.
Facebook offers Security Checkup, a free service that reviews and bolsters the security on your account when you log in. From there, you can opt to receive alerts when there’s a suspicious login noted on your account. You can also enable two-factor authentication.
It’s also a good idea to create a strong password that would be difficult for others to guess and isn’t used for other accounts. Facebook recommends using a phrase or series of words and mixing uppercase and lowercase letters.
To determine how much information other users can view on your profile, head to your profile page and click on the three dots on the bottom right corner of your profile photo. In the dropdown menu that appears, click “View as” to see which information is publicly viewable to strangers. Each time you make a post, you can choose who can see it—just you, your friends, or the custom groups you create. Avoid the “Public” option as much as possible.
If you ever need to check your Facebook account, always log in directly from the app or by typing in the URL. Don't trust every link you receive in your email.
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